WINNIPEG -- Manitoba's vaccine task force is getting close to opening up the phone lines for the general public to start booking appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Joss Reimer, who is the medical lead of the Vaccine Implementation Task Force, said when the bookings do open up, it will be for Manitobans over the age of 95.

"I know this is something that many Manitobans are looking forward to for themselves and their loved ones," Reimer said.

She said those individuals can't start booking quite yet, but an update will be provided next week for when the booking process can start.

Reimer added that usually they wouldn't announce the eligibility criteria a week beforehand due to the concern of people flooding the call centre to make appointments, but said for this age group an exception was made.

"We also know many Manitobans over 95 are not going to be going on our website and may not be watching this press conference, and we wanted to give some time for their families, for some of our community groups, for some of the facilities where these folks live to start working with them, to start with us, on how best to get these folks to the clinics, how best to book their appointment once they are eligible," she said.

Reimer, however, is reminding people not to call the booking phone number until the eligibility criteria has been officially updated so there isn't a delay for those who can actually book appointments now.


The province also updated the list of those who are eligible to start booking appointments to receive their first dose of the vaccine.

Those who work in congregate living facilities and are born on or before Dec. 31, 1955, are now able to phone the call centre to book an appointment.

Staff in primary care clinics, outpatient diagnostic imaging facilities, outpatient laboratories, outpatient surgical units and specialty physician clinics can all sign up for the vaccine as long as they were born on or before Dec. 31, 1960.

These fields join the health-care workers who work in acute care, emergency response services and specialty patient transportation, long term care facilities, COVID immunization clinics, testing sites, alternative isolation facilities, provincial or federal correctional facilities, as well as community services workers.

Those who call the vaccine booking number will be screened to make sure they meet the eligibility criteria for an appointment.